Tasting Report: SF Chronicle Winemaker of the Year Arnot-Roberts

Thursday, January 10, 2013

There was a great article in The San Francisco Chronicle this week naming Arnot-Roberts (two guys) their winemakers of the year. Here's a link to the piece. Read it now if you haven't already.

I've wanted to try their wines for the longest time since they produce wines from one of my favorite vineyards in California: Clary Ranch. Paul Clary's wines were the wines that got me into wine blogging. After a visit to Sonoma in 2004 I wrote this piece about his wines - four year before this blog would make its debut.

No amount of reading and research compare to walking a vineyard with a winemaker. I still remember getting a feel for the tiny scale of Clary Ranch, seeing the challenges of growing grapes up close, and tasting the wine steps away from where it was produced. I remain a fan of Paul's wines to this day.

After reading the article in The Chronicle I sought out a bottle of the 2010 Arnot-Roberts Clary Ranch Syrah. Jon Bonne (the wine writer for the paper) described this bottling as their calling card because of how prior vintages re-defined expectations of where California Syrah could be produced. Clary Ranch is situated in a relatively cool climate where Syrah sometimes has ripening challenges. In 2010 it produced a wine with just 12.2% alcohol.

After reading the article I found myself a bit concerned I may not be able to see the virtures of these wines. But perhaps like Littorai they do seem to strike a chord with a new world enthusiast like myself. Here are my notes on the 2010:

2010 Arnot-Roberts Clary Ranch Syrah
12.2% Alcohol

Really excited to to taste this after SF Chronicle winemaker of the year. Just 12.2% alcohol. Aromatically present immediately upon opening. Olives, black pepper, corriander and just a hint of red fruit hiding in the background. Absolutely would have pegged it for a Chateauneuf-du-Pape on the nose, but where the low alcohol levels shows is on the palate.

To be honest it's a little hollow, but it's such an interesting wine it's easily forgiven. Light acidity. Slightly chalky tannins with a touch of menthol in a high toned finish. Really pretty package (bottle/label/easily penetrated wax enclosure). A lot to like here. I have a second bottle of this I'll look forward to trying in a year or two but I doubt I'll be able to wait that long.

92/100 WWP: Oustanding

Bottom Line:

Definitely add these guys to your list of cutting edge California wineries to check out. I love luscious, fruit forward new world wines and these guys have found pitch perfect way of expressing new world terroir with old world sensibilities. Hop on their mailing list at http://arnotroberts.com

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